Category Archives: Bob Carter

Epic fail: the stunning defeat of Bob Carter and NZ climate sceptics (guest post)

A great post from Uknowispeaksense, who has given me permission to re-post:

Recently, there has been a court case in New Zealand where a group calling themselves the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (the Trust) were bringing an action against New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited [NIWA] essentially alleging that they used some dodgy statistics to produce a warming trend in some of the New Zealand temperature record.

The Trust was represented by Bob Carter (paleontologist), Mr Dunleavey (retired journalist) and Mr Dedekind (IT professional with some modelling experience). Keep in mind, these are the so-called “experts” put forward by the Trust. I kid you not. Before going any further, I urge you tocheck out their “statement of claim” as lodged with the High Court of New Zealand registry. It stops just short of claiming the scientists committed fraud but only just.

In paragraph 20 the trust accuse the scientists of being “influenced by the expectation that significant NZTR warming would encourage funding for additional climate change research”. Wow. They also accuse them of being subjective and secretive etc.

Well, the verdict is in and it seems Bob and his mates  have lost in the most spectacular fashion, not only failing to prove their case in all aspects, but also having costs awarded against them. But that’s not all. Reading the findings, one gets a real insight into just how poor and sloppy Bob and his mates were in their whole approach. The judge has also given them some severe, but just, criticisms. Here are a few of my favourites. Emphasis is mine.

Section 23 of the Evidence Act 2006 provides that a statement of opinion is not admissible except as provided by ss 24 or 25. Opinion is defined in the Evidence Act at s 4 as: “A statement of opinion that tends to prove or disprove a fact.” I accept Mr Smith’s submission that there are substantial portions of Mr Dunleavy’s original and reply affidavits where he proffers opinions on matters in issue in the proceedings, particularly on scientific practices and the validity of the scientific practices of NIWA. Such evidence could only be admissible under s 24 or s 25. Section 24 is not applicable in the circumstances. Section 25 could only apply if Mr Dunleavy was an expert in the particular area of the science of meteorology and/or climate. He is not. He has no applicable qualifications. His interest in the area does not sufficiently qualify him as an expert. I also accept Mr Smith’s further point that Mr Dunleavy’s views are not capable of offering substantial help to this Court on the issue that it has to determine. To that extent I agree that substantial passages of Mr Dunleavy’s evidence are inadmissible.

[52] Further, I note that Mr Dunleavy has, in any event, failed to comply with High Court Rule 9.43, and could not be regarded as an impartial expert. There are passages of his evidence which are objectionable on the grounds that they are submission and not evidence as to factual matters or even opinion.

[53] Similar issues (as to the limited nature of his expertise), apply to the evidence of Mr Dedekind. Although in his affidavit in reply Mr Dedekind purported to comply with r 9.43, Mr Dedekind’s expertise is in relation to computer modelling and statistical analysis.

[54] I accept Mr Smith’s criticism of Mr Dedekind’s evidence to the extent that Mr Dedekind is not an expert in the application of statistical techniques in the field of climate science. Mr Dedekind’s general expertise in basic statistical techniques does not extend to any particular specialised experience or qualifications in the specific field of applying statistical techniques in the field of climate science. To that extent, where Mr Dedekind purports to comment or give opinions as to NIWA’s application of statistical techniques in those fields,his evidence is of little assistance to the Court.

Ooooh, that smarts. When are these idiots going to realise that being an Excel Expert or a Google Galileo does NOT a climate scientist make. At this point I’d like to digress for just a moment and refer my readers to a blog entry over at my favourite denier blog, Geoffrey Brown’s official blog for the Climate Sceptics Party, where on Wednesday, July 4, 2012,  Anthony Cox, in referring to this New Zealand court case, said this:

Anthony Cox suggesting a case could be brought against the BoM

All I can say to this is, please do Anthony. Given your expertise in climatology, perhaps you could evidence? So, back to the New Zealand High Court findings. After the judges critique of the relevant expertise or, lack thereof, of the plaintiffs, he then went on to describe the extensive qualifications and expertise of the defendants. It was a beautiful thing and well worth the read.  But now to something else that caught my eye.

 [79] A further preliminary point arises. The Trust’s argument on this point depends on this Court finding that NIWA departed from “best recognised scientific opinion”. It defines “recognised scientific opinion” as relevant established scientific opinions and methods described in internationally recognised research journals. In Dr Carter’s opinion, RS93 is the definitive paper for statistical adjustments to offset the effects of site changes in New Zealand conditions. It is implicit in his evidence thatfailure to apply that is a failure to comply with recognised scientific opinion.

[81] Dr Carter, the expert for the Trust, does not directly support the Trust’s definition of recognised scientific opinion. His evidence on this point is, in summary: Applied science in any field must take into account the current state of knowledge as attested by the peer-reviewed literature. Any departures from established knowledge or authority must be noted and explained. If one disagrees with the established literature, then the remedy is to write a critical paper with full reasoning and have it published in a suitable journal.

This really tells a story and I refer my readers to a post I did about Bob Carter and his opinion on peer review where states, “Interestingly, Albert Einstein’s famous 1905 paper on relativity was not peer-reviewed. It is therefore quite clear that peer-review is not a precondition for excellent, indeed epoch-making, scientific research.” Ouch. Finally, this bit:

[88] Next, there is a letter to Mr Dunleavy on 18 February 2010 responding to an Official Information Act request. The Trust seeks to rely on the following passage:
NIWA’s letter of 29 January pointed you to several papers including Dr Salinger’s PhD thesis as explanations of the methodology behind processing the original records.

It may have been of more assistance if NIWA had gone on to clarify the application of the RS93 but the use of the word “including” is again at best, ambiguous. When the passage relied on is read in context of the response as a whole it does not, in my judgment support a conclusion that NIWA was saying that it did not apply RS93.

What is it with deniers taking things out of context? Anyway, the rest of the judgment reads like a “How to make spurious unsubstantiated claims relying on the testimony of non-experts in order to waste the court’s time and cop a hefty legal bill in the process” manual.

Well done Bob and his mates, well done. Now, how about coming home and having a go here and then maybe go and give crybaby Watts a hand to take on the establishment over there?

That way, when it’s all done and dusted and you’ve made a complete dick of yourself in numerous places, we can get on with dealing with the very serious issue of human induced climate change and rising temperatures as recorded by the very accurate instrumental record.

After such knowledge: response to Manne – the diagnosis is outstanding, it is the corrective that is needed

“In June 2011, a reporter for the New York Times attended the annual conference in Washington at what was then the most important denialist organisation in the United States, he Heartland Institute. It had about it, she said, “the air of a victory lap”. The jubilation was warranted….” – Robert Manne

Firstly, Robert Manne should be congratulated on his outstanding contribution to our understanding of the history of climate denial, its effectiveness and its achievements.

Manne writes with all the erudition, mastery of facts and passion one has come to expect of him as a writer and intellectual.

Titled “A dark victory: how vested interests defeated climate science“, the essay provides a condensed history of the denial movement, its key achievements and the shape of its “victory” – the defeat of global agreements on carbon dioxide reduction and the turning of public opinion against science and scientists.

For those of us familiar with the details of the debate, the players and their tactics there is nothing we don’t know: Manne cites the work of Oreskes & Conway (Merchants of Doubt), Gelbspan (The Heat is on), Hoggan (Climate cover up), Schneider (Science as a contact sport) and Mann (The hockey stick and the climate wars).

This is by no means a criticism, as the majority of Australians are either indifferent to the debate or ignorant to the players and their way in which they have sought to manipulate public opinion. Manne’s essay provides an extremely useful summary of the literature on climate change denial. It serves as a useful primer for anyone hoping to understand how we arrived at such a lamentable state.

As Manne notes:

“So far nations and the international community have failed conspicuously to rise to the challenge posed by the dangers. Since the Rio Earth Conference of 1992, which initiated the search for an international agreement, carbon dioxide emissions have risen by 40% of more…”

As many have stated – and I also emphatically state – this is a failure not just of the political process but of a civilisation.

Manne has repurposed the title of David Marr’s book Dark Victory, which describes that other shameful episodes in Australian politics the Tampa incident, to alert us to the “victory condition” the deniers have achieved.

Of course it is a victory only King Pyrrhus would appreciate, a similar appreciation that we are only now beginning to grasp.

Indeed, the Tampa affair and the prevalence of climate change denial book-end each other as they are the product of not just the same forces, but the same individuals.

While Manne does not explicitly state this, I think we can accept the fact that the coarsening of public debate and confusion on climate change can be attributed to News Limited and its cadre of conservative columnists, “shock jocks” such as Allen Jones and the Liberal-National Party.

It is not a co-incidence that the same actors that helped create the Tampa “crisis” – cynically exploiting the public’s fears in the post 9/11 environment – are the same ones who have distorted the “climate debate”.

We should not forget the obstructionist role the Government of John Howard played in refusing to sign the Kyoto protocol. To our great national shame we followed the path of the second Bush presidency in not merely stalling global agreements, but actively undermining negotiations and aligning with think tanks, fossil fuel interests and the tiny, but highly motivated, “community” of climate change deniers.

Two individuals in particular should be remembered for their roles in contributing to this public policy disaster at a global level: News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt and former Prime Minister John Howard.

Without Howard (and by extension the LNP) and News Ltd’s unqualified willingness to inject the conspiracy claims and dubious scientific “arguments” of the self-proclaimed climate sceptics into the public debate we would not be in the mess we find ourselves.

On any other scientific issue, the likes of David Evans, Ian Plimer, Jo Nova, Bob Carter and the sad “Galileo Movement” would be laughed from the court of public opinion. However, because climate change denial is attuned to the world view and values of conservative elites, it has received political patronage.

The swarm of think tanks, “citizen scientists” and sceptic bloggers are merely the courtiers of a decaying and moribund ancien regime. They are like the mesmerists, alchemists and psychics that gravitate towards the powerful hoping to suck at the teat of wealth and privilege in exchange for flattering their eccentric and self-absorbed patrons.

Normally the farce of eccentric billionaires funding an army of panderers would be of no consequence: but when the powerful employ think tanks, PR consultants, tame scientists and segments of the media to help them deny reality – and then project that falsity back into the public domain – it is a recipe for disaster on a civilisational scale.

It not only gives me cause to weep in rage, but wonder if Homo sapiens posses an innate self-destructive urge that defies not merely reason, but explanation.

To paraphrase Tacitus: the victory of the deniers will make a desert which they declare a kind of peace.

We can see just what this “peace” looks like as corn crops shrivel across the continental United States under record drought conditions. 

After such knowledge

Manne does what nearly every member of the progressive “side’ of politics does so very well: diagnose the problem.

The detail is there, the cause and effect is masterly described. There is a vast literature on the politics of climate change, the psychology of denial and if you really want it lists that name the “guilty parties”.

But we still lack an appreciation of the “corrective”. What is to be done? What can we do?

Still, however much we wish to heap blame on the deniers and their powerful patrons we have not fully explored our failure to appreciate the ferocity, tenacity and willingness to win-at-all-costs of the forces arrayed against the science.

Foolishly it was thought presenting the evidence of environmental collapse and the possibility of suffering on a global scale would sufficiently motivate the political, business and scientific elites to work cooperatively to “solve the problem”. We placed our trust in civilisations “best and brightest”.

After Copenhagen we should disabuse ourselves of such romantic assumptions.

The failure of the global community to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to safe levels (1) rivals the failure to reduce the diplomatic tensions between the Great Powers in the first decade of the 20th century.

Those failures lead to a global conflagration, two world wars, revolution and the Holocaust:

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or if still believed,
In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.”

To this I ask you; every person reading this post, every activist, scientist , every politician and citizen.

After such knowledge what is to be done?

(1) Insert your idea of safe concentrations of CO2 here; 600ppm 400ppm, 350ppm?

The Heartland Leaks: will the mainstream media pick it up?

Imagine if a prominent Australian scientist propagated the idea that AIDS was not a deadly disease.

Imagine if this scientist declared the existence of an elaborate conspiracy perpetrated by the medical establishment to help cover up that “fact”.

Imagine that for a period of time sections of the media faithfully reproduced the claims of this scientist without fact checking. Indeed contrary to all the evidence, this scientist was allowed to make these claims in print, radio and on TV.

Imagine if it was discovered this scientist had been receiving thousands of dollars from an ideologically motivated think tank to spread such misinformation.

Imagine if governments refused to fund programs to curb AIDs based on the claims of this scientist because “the science wasn’t settled”.

Imagine if thousands of individuals listened to this scientist, and ignored conventional medical advice about practicing safe sex.

What would be the result of this deceit?

Shattered lives, a medical emergency and billions spent on helping those afflicted with the disease.

Indeed this has already happened in South Africa.

But what if this had happened in Australia?

Would the media report on this tragedy?

Would the media ask itself why it allowed itself to be deceived – and in turn deceive the public?

Would the scientist come under scrutiny for their actions?

Now imagine if a scientist took funding form a think tank to deny global warming, another emerging crisis…

Oh wait, we don’t have to imagine that.

Something wicked this way comes: October deniers conference and book launch

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…”  

Looks like it is shaping up to be the October Carnival of Denial!  

I’ve already noted that the Heartland Institute, in conjunction with the Institute of Public Affairs, is hosting a Sydney conference this month.  

Well, it seems the boys and girls at the IPA have a very busy month planned.  

Bob Carter, one of the very few qualified scientists who doubt climate change will be launching his bew book “The Counter-Consensus” in early October:

“The counter-consensus to quasi-scientific hype and induced panic on climate change is at last assembling. Climate: the Counter Consensus examines, with thoroughness and impartial expertise, the so-called facts of global warming that are churned out and unquestioningly accepted, while the scientific and media establishments stifle or deride any legitimate expression of an opposing view.

Professor Carter is an Emeritus Fellow of the IPA. He featured in the ‘Climategate’ emails as one of those brave enough to question the prevailing wisdom on climate change. Climate: The Counter-Consensus challenges the myths of ‘climate science’ that have been accepted by the media and the public.”

The book will be launched by NZ politician Rodney Hide:

Professor Carter’s book will be launched by the Hon Rodney Hide. Rodney is a minister in the New Zealand government, and leader of the ACT New Zealand Party. ACT New Zealand is an explicitly free market and small government party and has five MPs in the New Zealand parliament.

Further proof that the denial movement is supported by an international network of industry funded think tanks.  

 So why all the hub-bub?  

It’s possible be that they are trying to ratchet things up following the formation of the Gillard minority government.  

They are, after all dead set against a price on carbon. Says the IPA of thus much dreaded eventuality:

Rise up against the emissions trading scheme

The announcement by new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard that Australia will not have an ETS before 2012, shows what a huge mistake the National Government has made by pushing ahead with our scheme in New Zealand…

We are now guaranteed to be at a competitive disadvantage with our closest major trading partner for at least another two years, if not more. How many jobs are we going to lose overseas and what damage will be done to our economy, before Australia, the US, Japan and China get on board – if ever?..

ACT believe the ETS should never have been implemented and will keep campaigning to at least have it suspended. This is a key issue for us. This is a key issue for New Zealand’s future prosperity and therefore for all New Zealanders who care about where this country is heading.

Yes, rise up ye patriots and lovers of liberty! Strike a blow for freedom!  

Give us LIBERTY or give us DEATH!  

The counter-counter-consensus  

I think we can easily dismiss Carter’s book as in the vein of “there is no consensus“.  

Sorry Bob, the counter to your counter-consensus is that scientists agree climate change is happening.  

A survey of over 3,000 earth scientists clearly indicates strong scientific support for climate change:

It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate among scientists.

The debate is non-existent amongst the science community: the public debate is fuelled by professional disinformers such as the IPA and Bob Carter.

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